Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) today announced new intellectual property (IP) licensing initiatives for its mouse and keyboard technologies, making key technologies, including U2 interface detection and switching technology, Tilt Wheel and the Magnifier tool, broadly available to third-party brands and hardware manufacturers in the mobile and desktop peripherals industry. By expanding its IP licensing to address increased market demand within the consumer electronics industry, Microsoft is encouraging shared success by opening revenue-generating opportunities for Microsoft partners.
"Most people think of Microsoft as solely a software company, but we've been a leading hardware innovator and supplier to the desktop peripherals industry for over 20 years," said Robbie Bach, president of the Entertainment and Devices Division at Microsoft. "The hardware licensing initiative is a first for Microsoft, and we're excited to make our innovations broadly available to others in the industry through licensing."
Through groundbreaking hardware innovations, Microsoft has enhanced the user experience for countless customers. These technologies are now available to help other companies expand their customer offerings:
-- U2 technology enables a computer peripheral device (such as a mouse or
keyboard) to be connected to a computer using either a PS2 or USB
-- The Tilt Wheel is an innovative hardware component of mice and optional
keyboard offerings that allows users to tilt the component from side to
side and up and down to easily maneuver the cursor.
-- The Magnifier is a viewing and editing tool used with input devices
such as a mouse. It delivers functionality equivalent to holding a
magnifying glass up to a computer screen.
By making hardware innovations for peripheral devices available for licensing, Microsoft maintains its dedication to its December 2003 promise to make its IP portfolio broadly available for licensing to all interested parties. Microsoft is committed to protecting intellectual property rights because innovation is the fundamental component of progress and growth in the technology industry. Licensing is a key element in Microsoft's business practices because it helps defray the costs of bringing leading-edge products to market by offsetting some of its investments in research and development. The ultimate result is that more customers are able to access the technologies from global suppliers at more competitive price points.
Early Interest in Hardware Licensing
Some of the first licensees of the technologies have already expressed their enthusiasm for these new licensing opportunities. "As the leading global supplier of notebook cases and accessories, we're pleased to take advantage of this licensing program for input product technologies," said Michael Greco, director of Marketing for Targus Inc.
"We take pride in the strong, long-tenured relationships we share with our partners around the world, including Microsoft," said Steve Peterson, director of Marketing at Fellowes Inc. "Access to the U2 technology takes the guesswork out of the equation for suppliers and consumers, and allows us to further our commitment to enabling people to work with greater productivity."
"The new hardware licensing programs offered by Microsoft are an asset to us in maintaining our great reputation in the OEM and original design manufacturer business world," said Steve O.Y., president of Acrox Technology Co. Ltd. "The four-way scrolling feature available with the Tilt Wheel technology is a cutting-edge innovation that we are excited to offer our customers."
"As an early licensee of both the U2 and Tilt Wheel technologies, we see the obvious benefits of working with Microsoft to take advantage of the innovations it has created," said Albert Chen, president and CEO of KYE Systems Corp. "The cutting-edge features and cost savings translate into our ability to offer customers and suppliers the best products on the market."
The U2 interface detection and switching technology enables a computer peripheral device to be connected to a computer using either a PS2 or USB auto-sensing interface. The major advantage for users is that such keyboards or mice are "smart" and can figure out the type of connection the PC requires without user input. U2 technology is a major benefit to mouse and keyboard manufacturers and end brands because its auto-sensing technology allows them to supply a single stock-keeping unit (SKU) to address either PS2 or USB connectivity versus multiple SKU code to address connectivity options. The technology delivers real cost savings to manufacturers and retailers through reduced inventory management. U2 takes the guesswork out of peripheral connectivity selection for consumers.
The Microsoft(R) Tilt Wheel is an innovative hardware component of mice and optional keyboard offerings that allows users to tilt the scroll wheel horizontally or vertically to maneuver the cursor easily and fluidly. The ability to scroll smoothly is especially beneficial for navigating worksheets and documents that span beyond the screen view.
The Magnifier was released this past holiday season with 10 new Microsoft-branded mouse products. The Magnifier is an innovative viewing and editing tool when used with input devices such as a mouse. It delivers functionality equivalent to holding a magnifying glass up to a computer screen. Typical applications include editing of digital photos as well as viewing and magnifying within spreadsheets, Word documents and Web pages.
Online demonstrations of the Tilt Wheel and Magnifier features are available at http://www.microsoft.com/hardware . Information on Microsoft's IP licensing program is available at http://www.microsoft.com/mscorp/ip .
Founded in 1975, Microsoft is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
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